CANOEING: RUNCORN canoeist James Mayers has returned home after winning one of the sport's toughest competitions.
The Exe Descent involves 19 miles of white water and 500 other canoeists in a mass start.
The race is run annually by Exeter Canoe Club and James was taking part in the 35th anniversary of the race.
Twenty-nine-year old James, who has been training at Runcorn Canoe Club on the River Weaver since 1999, won the race comfortably in a time of 2hr 20 mins, more than three minutes ahead of the second-placed competitor.
James had to invest in a new kayak for this race, after recently smashing off the front of his previous canoe on a weir in the 17-mile River Liffey Descent Race, near Dublin.
He said: 'I wanted to be sure of finishing this race but I was also determined to win after the disappointment in Dublin.'
This win comes as an end of year boost to James, who will compete in selection races for the British team in March.
James has been training hard this season, normally training on the river seven times per week.
As well as his own training, he also finds the time to coach junior members of Runcorn Canoe Club, where he is able to pass on his enthusiasm for the sport.
Runcorn is a small club, specialising in the development of sprint and marathon kayaking. It shares facilities with Runcorn Rowing Club.
A small fleet of K1s, K2s and a K4 is available for members to use.
The club meets throughout the year on most Tuesdays and Thursday nights at 5.30pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9am.
Beginner sessions are normally available on Saturday mornings, weather permitting. Anyone interested in training for marathon or sprint canoeing can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.